What I’ve Been Reading (3)–Faith, Form, and Time: What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms about Creation and the Age of the Universe

Over the past few weeks I have reviewed books that survey various views concerning evolution, creation, and the proper way to interpret Genesis.  Beginning with this post, I intend to start reviewing books that advocate a particular position.  I’ve chosen these books, not on the basis of my agreement with them, but because I believe they make significant contributions to the creation/evolution debate.  Some that we will look at argue for young-earth creationism, some for old-earth creationism, others for evolutionary creationism, and still others for Darwinism.  In addition, I plan to review a book or two that were written by atheists who hold to evolution, even though they will concede that the evidence does not support the Darwinian hypothesis.  Today I want to bring to your attention Kurt Wise’s Faith, Form, and Time: What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms about Creation and the Age of the Universe.

 Though Ken Ham commands more notoriety among the general public, Kurt Wise is arguably the most prestigious living advocate of young-earth creationism, at least within the scientific community.  Wise, who directs Truett-McConnell’s Creation Research Center, received his PhD in paleontology at Harvard University; under the tutelage of none other than the eminent evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould.  Wise displays more care in his approach to the empirical evidences than have some young-earth proponents in the past, and he is more cautious in his claims (with a few exceptions we’ll note below).  Wise also acknowledges the strength of arguments for an ancient universe (58, 70, 99), and that at present the scientific evidence for a young earth is not compelling (68). Still, with a presuppositionalism that borders on fideism, Wise contends passionately for a literal, seven-day creation that occurred approximately 6,000 years ago.

Wise contends that God has made the evidence for creation intentionally ambiguous so as to make faith necessary for having a relationship with Him.  And even though one looking at the empirical evidence alone might come to the conclusion the cosmos must be very ancient, this is not because God deliberately intended to deceive.  Rather, because God created the world fully functional, the universe necessarily has an appearance of age.  Wise uses Jesus’ miracle of turning the water into wine to make his point.  A participant at the marriage at Cana would naturally assume that the wine he was drinking was years old.  But he would have been mistaken: the wine had been created that very day.  The miracle gave the wine the appearance of age.  Wise argues that God’s miraculous activity of creating the world in seven days similarly gives the universe its ancient appearance.  Not all will be convinced that Wise’s argument from analogy holds.  

Wise offers a number of speculations that are sure to raise eyebrows.  Take, for example, his explanation of why, if dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, no fossil remains of the two species have been found together.  Wise conjectures that they may have lived in opposite parts of the world (174).  He also suggests that coal fields were produced by floating continents (171) and that the ice age lasted only a few decades or a few centuries at most (215-16).  Noah’s flood was not only world-wide, but it also impacted the moon, the planets, and perhaps the entire universe (206). I suspect these arguments will impress only the already convinced.  Faith, Form, and Time provides an accessible explanation of current young-earth thinking.  Those interested in the creation/evolution debate need this book.

This post is cross-posted to www.theologyforthechurch.com

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  1. Roger Simpson   •  

    If, in fact, Wise’s explainations are the most cogent that have been offered for the “young earth creation” position, then I’d say that the new-earthers are going to have to sharpen their tools to advance a credible argument.

    Personally, I hold to a literal six day creation. But the days are not necessarily 24 hours [or any other set duration] in length. Note that one of the literal meanings of “days” [Hebrew yom] is “some period of time”.

    Holding to a “old earth” view does not necessarily put you on a slippery slope to replacing creation with pond scum to apes to men via a naturalistic evolutionary mechanism.

    The 24 hour creation day idea is frought with problems. One of them is holding to an understanding of “day” as the duration that it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis such that the sun is again on the meridian. At least for days 1, 2, and 3 the term “day” must have some other meaning than solar days [what we now call 24 hr days] since the sun was not created by God until the fourth day.

  2. Ken Keathley   •     Author

    Hi Roger. Thanks for your comments. I intend to review a couple of old earth creationist texts very soon. Stay tuned! kk

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